Dragonworld: The Legend Continues (1999)

AKA Shadow of the Knight

Starring Drake Bell, Tina Martin, Andrew Keir, James Ellis, Judith Paris, Constantin Barbulescu, Richard Trask

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


Dragonworld: The Legend Continues might sound like a sequel to Full Moon’s Dragonworld, but no, it’s actually a prequel! The legend continues… in the past! In this particular case, though, the title seems to refer to the story line used to craft the film, continuing the legend from Dragonworld that explained how a baby dragon was suddenly in 1990s Scotland after all the dragons died out hundreds of years ago. This was one of my favorite parts of the original, so it was a great surprise to see it continued. This makes Dragonworld: The Legend Continues a more-than-worthy follow-up to Dragonworld, and in a lot of ways I actually like this one better.

John McGowan is roughly around age 11 or 12 in Dragonworld: The Legend Continues, and his grandfather Angus (Andrew Keir) is teaching him about the magical properties of their land. Angus attempts to show John the power of the ley lines intersecting underneath a circular grouping of stones, but this causes lightning to strike and crack the center stone. Unfortunately for the McGowans and their dragon Yowler, this stone was the prison of the evil knight MacClain (Constantin Barbulescu), AKA the guy who killed all the dragons. Immediately after being released, he sets out to finish what he started and kill Yowler.

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Dragonworld (1994)

Starring Courtland Mead, Alastair Mackenzie, Brittney Powell, Lila Kaye, Andrew Keir, John Calvin, Jim Dunk, John Woodvine, Janet Henfrey

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


I’ve been watching the Full Moon films in a fairly random order, so I generally associate the Moonbeam films with a certain style that developed during Full Moon’s leaner years when everything was shot in Romania. I’m so accustomed to this “flavor” that I forgot entirely that the origins of Moonbeam go back to the years when Full Moon was partnered with Paramount, and as such they are much higher budgeted films. Dragonworld — the third Moonbeam film released — is one of these Paramount/Full Moon endeavors, and it’s decidedly more ambitious than pretty much every other Moonbeam film I’ve seen.

John McGowan (Courtland Mead) is a five-year-old American orphan traveling to Scotland to live with his paternal grandfather, Angus (Andrew Keir). John is scared and not entirely prepared to handle this kind of intense life change at his age. Living in a remote Scottish castle might sound like a great idea to get away from the current state of American politics for you or I, but to John it’s a bit isolating. His grandfather starts him on the path of learning the bagpipes — with the wonderful line, “Put your sadness into the music.” — and one day while practicing he wishes for a friend. Smoke billows, the earth shakes, and before you can say The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond a baby dragon emerges from this geological anomaly.

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The Horrible Dr. Bones (2000)

horribledrbones_1Starring Darrow Igus, Larry Bates, Sarah Scott Davis, Rhonda Claerbaut, Danny Wooten, Tangelia Rouse, Derrick Delaney, Nathaniel Haywood

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
twostar


The Horrible Dr. Bones doesn’t lend itself to much of anything, whether we’re talking about writing a review, having a discussion, or just watching the movie for simple entertainment. Made to specifically target the black audience, The Horrible Dr. Bones is about an up-and-coming rap group looking for their big break. Hmm, sounds mysteriously similar to Ragdoll… but beyond this base-level similarity, the two films are very different.

The up-and-coming rap group in this film are the Urban Protectors, and we open on them arriving to an audition for the prestigious producer Dr. Bones. Well, actually it opens on Dr. Bones and his recording engineer making an auditioner’s head explode with the loudness of their jams, but I hate to mention it because it makes the movie seem like it might be an enjoyable horror experience. Anyway, the Urban Protectors wait their turn to perform by watching a couple of other groups perform, and since this is a Full Moon movie, we are “treated” to this as well. It’s not the music that bothers me — I love music and performance — it’s that everything is lip-synced rather poorly, so there’s never one moment that comes close to capturing the feel of a band performing for an audience.

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Ragdoll (1999)

ragdoll_1Starring Russell Richardson, Jennia Fredrique, Tarnell Poindexter, William Stanford Davis, Danny Wooten, William L. Johnson, Troy Medley, Frederic Tucker, Freda Payne

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: I don’t expect much, but I hope it’s fun.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
twohalfstar


Ragdoll is a pretty fun, voodoo/black magic themed horror movie, but I wouldn’t hold it against you if you didn’t make it past the first couple of minutes. The film’s lead character is Kwame (Russell Richardson), but Ragdoll starts with a flashback intro, showing us a moment in the childhood of Kwame’s grandma. Her mother — Kwame’s great grandmother — was a practitioner of the black arts, and apparently she made a bad deal with the Shadow Man. Due to this, Kwame’s grandmother witnessed her mother’s murder by an agent of the Shadow Man, in this case, a haunted dress. It’s as scary and convincing as it sounds; it looks like someone is just off-screen with a fishing pole waving the dress around.

I thought this traumatic moment might cause Kwame’s grandmother to live a life free of the dark arts, but no! When we flash-forward to the present day, we learn that dear ol’ Gran is indeed a dabbler in the occult, she just does so with a supreme respect and knowledge of what might happen if she isn’t careful with how she conducts her dealings with the other side. Kwame, though, has had no such trauma in his life, so when his up-and-coming rap group (called KT Bounce) is forced into a managerial contract with a ruthless gangster, Big Pere (William Stanford Davis), he seeks the help of the Shadow Man to fight his battles.

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Remote (1993)

Remote1993Starring Chris Carrara, Jessica Bowman, John Diehl, Tony Longo, Stuart Fratkin, Derya Ruggles, Jordan Belfi, Kenneth A. Brown, Lorna Scott

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
twohalfstar


I purposefully don’t do much research so I can come to movies without too many expectations. In the case of Remote, knowing nothing led me to incorrectly assume that the title referred to a TV remote. I imagined a magical remote control as the catalyst to the typical Moonbeam storyline of a kid getting sucked into an alternate world, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In actuality, Remote is more grounded than any other Moonbeam film I’ve seen so far, and the title refers to remote-controlled planes, cars and yodeling Germans.

The storyline is fairly scattershot, but if I had to classify it as something, it’s basically a Home Alone clone. Randy (Chris Carrara) is your typical ’90s whiz kid, and his special interest is in remote-controlled devices. His best friend is a baseball-playing girl named Judy (Jessica Bowman), and they spend a lot of time together flying remote-controlled planes, and racing remote-controlled cars around the duct work in the attic of the sole model house for an undeveloped housing tract. This house is their special hideout, but when a trio of bungling burglars seek refuge there, Randy finds himself trapped in the attic with nothing but his remote-controlled minions between him and the criminals.

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The Shrunken City (1998)

The Shrunken City (1998)
AKA Shandar: The Shrunken City

Starring Michael Malota, Agnes Bruckner, Jules Mandel, Steve Valentine, Ray Laska, Dorina Lazar, Christopher Landry, Lula Malota, Andreea Macelaru, Ion Haiduc

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Moderate, the kids movies are always iffy.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


I’ve put off writing this review for the last hour or so after the movie had ended. Usually I start right away, eager to blast out my thoughts into some form of a rough draft. Whenever I hesitate, it’s usually a bad sign. In this particular case, it’s a sign of a film that has left me rather indifferent, but I’ll try to make the best of it. It’s odd too, because I enjoyed The Shrunken City, or Shandar – The Shrunken City! if you’re going by its most recent title (and what it’s known by at a Redbox near you).

Shandar is about the mystical city of Shandar that was shrunken into a glass bottle as a last-ditch effort to save it from the destructive forces of the evil Ood. As a sidenote, has there ever been a shittier name for a villainous force? The Ood? I suppose I could call them the El Ooderino, but they’re obviously into the whole brevity thing so I won’t. Anyway, the city is shrunken and then 26,000 years and a dimensional journey later, it is unearthed by our 13-year-old heroes, George and Lori. The only problem is that by unearthing it, they have also broken its protective shield and now the Ood are back to finally wipe out that pesky city of Shandar. Boy, these guys really know how to hold a grudge. You’d think after 26,000 years they’d let it go.

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The St. Francisville Experiment (2000)

Starring Madison Charap, Troy Taylor, Ryan Larson, P.J. Palmer, Tim Baldini

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: I hate Blair Witch, so a rip-off probably isn’t much better.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


“I love all the ghosts.”

That is one character’s protective mantra throughout the film and it became mine as I tried valiantly to remain conscious through the film’s running time. The funny thing though is that I actually enjoyed watching The St. Francisville Experiment for the most part, it’s just that so little happens and the characters are far too uninteresting to make for an overall pleasing film. So why would I enjoy watching something like this? Well, because I’m a cinematic masochist of course, but besides that if you buy into it just enough it’s pretty easy to have fun with it. I can imagine a group of thirteen-year-old girls renting this for a slumber party and having an absolute ball.

The premise here is simple: there’s a haunted mansion and a film producer has rounded up four college students to go in with cameras and try to document some ghost activity. Everything is presented as if it were a real documentary; there are no opening credits and the film is all shot on handheld video cameras. Anyone that actually watches the movie shouldn’t be fooled past ten or fifteen minutes in, but at least initially it does a good job of selling the documentary “found footage” idea of the picture. Not that that’s original or anything. This film exists purely to shamelessly rip off the success of The Blair Witch Project. That film dropped the year before and Full Moon and company were quick to spring on its success. From my limited research into the found footage genre, this seems to be the first rip-off released after Blair Witch too, so if that truly is the case, you have to give Full Moon credit for moving faster than anyone else.

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